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sf visitor looking for great burger in pub/bar/casual rest bar and good bowl of pho

  • m

Here the week of feb 8 staying near 44th and 5th. Dont need a place close but just in case. Dont want a twenty dollar and up burger at a nice restaurant bar just something good that has beer/wine and or spirits. Several decent pho spots in sf any in manhattan?

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  1. Try Shake Shack on the Upper West Side or Burger Joint inside the Parker Meridien hotel on 56th (i think). Both very casual but great burgers and they have alcohol!

    9 Replies
    1. re: stephaniec25

      Sorry should have been more specific have been to both and liked the burger but looking for more of a pub/bar atmosphere during lunch time

      1. re: mick

        You were very specific I think people just recommend those places in a sort of rote manner. For a big juicy pub burger I would say Molly's is a good choice. 3rd avenue just south of 23rd street which would be a quick walk if it were warmer but a cab wouldn't be too pricey and the 6 train can get you there quickly. Your alcohol selection will be limited to the typical Irish Pub stuff.

        A place with a great beer selection near your hotel is Rattle N Hum on 33rd between Madison and Fifth. They have a great microbrew selection and their burgers are good but not great. Still it is passable and a good place to try some local brews like Captain Lawrence, Sixpoint, Bluepoint, Brooklyn etc. They get crowded after work on Friday but the rest of the weekend you should be fine.

        Depending on where you are going to be I could recommend additional spots to grab a quality beverage to get away from the cold.

        Manhattan has some decent Pho but to be honest nothing great. I have not been to SF in about 10 years so I can't compare the current noodle soup scene but NYC currently has good Ramen, and in Chinatown handpulled noodles. I also like the soups at Bo Ky on a cold day. They do Chaozhou style soups, the fish dumpling soup w mustard greens is a steal for $5 and there shacha sauce is good.

        Good luck and enjoy your time in NYC

        1. re: MVNYC

          Thanks for the info,would like some recommendations for a few place to get out of the cold and have a drink. Location in Manhattan doesn't matter but I'll be on my own and need a daytime/afternoon spot.

          1. re: mick

            dba in the East Village is my favorite bar. Great list of beers on tap, large selection of single malts, tequilas, etc.

            1. re: Peter Cherches

              I second that suggestion, if the OP is looking to separate their eating from their drinking.

              1. re: Peter Cherches

                Agreed, DBA on First ave and Second Street is a great spot for an afternoon beer. Grab a bar stool by the window and you have good people watching too. They do not serve food but thay actually works to your advantage as you can bring in lunch. I am not sure how you feel about smoked/cured fish but you are near one of the great NYC institutions Russ and Daughters. If going to DBA I would highly recommend bringing in lunch from R&D. If so go for an open faced bagel(so you can get two kinds of fish and its easier to eat) with Nova and Sable or any other kinds you might like. I am partial to belly lox but this is somewhat of an acquired taste. R&D is a couple of blocks away on Houston st.

                DBA itself usually has two beers on cask as well as a good tap and bottle selection. As Peter said they also have a great spirit selection.

                If you are in the West Village, Blind Tiger on Bleeker Street is arguably the city's best beer bar. They usually have the best selection and the food is good here too(get the bloody beast, roast beef with a fiery tomato dipping sauce). I like them on cold days as they have a working fire place. It is good in the afternoon but can get very crowded at night.

                Hope this helps.

            2. re: MVNYC

              Also if in the DBA area you can get a good bowl of Ramen at Setagaya on First ave and Ninth street and then walk down the block to DBA or vice versa.

              Plenty of good eats around there.

              1. re: MVNYC

                Another good place to pick up food to bring to dba is Caracas Arepa Bar.

                1. re: Peter Cherches

                  Somehow almost every time I go to dba I stop by Tuck Shop. If not Tuck Shop, then Katz's.

        2. Walkers, Molly's for burger. I think Mondays are the burger day at Rub. Nothing like these options in San Francisco.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sugartoof

            Waterfront Ale House is another good burger and beer selection, in a more contemporary pub.

          2. I'd try Five Napkin Burger, it seems like the new spot and I think it's over on 8th or 9th on 45th street -- I think they have a web site www.fivenapkinburger.com

            3 Replies
            1. re: bluehorseshoe

              5 napkins burger is not very good. The service is good, beer list decent. The house beer is weak.

              I prefer Molly's or Spotted Pig by a wide margin.

              1. re: steve h.

                Really like the Spotted Pig burger and the cheese they put on it. I know the Roquefort cheese turns a lot of people off, though. (They serve it with Roquefort or no cheese at all -- you can't get cheddar or American.) But it's lovely and not crowded at SP during the day!

                1. re: kathryn

                  The Pig can be hectic and uncomfortable during peak lunch hours. Something magical happens around 2:30 p.m.: the place seems to throttle back a bit, the palpable tension emitted by a hard-pressed staff subsides and a measure of order is restored. That's when I like to sit at the bar, have a burger with cheese and a beer. I like the string fries, too. Not as good as Zuni's (SF) but good enough. I'm also a fan of the neighborhood, maybe the best in Manhattan.

            2. The best pho I've had is the house special at Xe Lau in Chinatown. Even better, though, is the wonton noodle soup w/ roast pork at Big Wong King.

              1. what about JG Melon on 74th/3rd. It may be too out of the way but one of my favorites in the city. Small, pubby a bit of the upper east side crowd but great burgers, cottage fries, etc. Be warned, its cash only.

                1. There's absolutely no point for someone from SF to look for pho in NY. You'll only be disappointed.

                  For burgers I'd recommend P.J. Clarke's. It meets your parameters, the burgers are great, and it's a true NY institution (but only the original at 3rd & 55th).


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Peter Cherches

                    The burgers at PJ Clarke's are good but a little on the smallish size for that type. If the OP is in the Union Square area he may want to try the Old Town bar on East 18th St. Great atmosphere and a burger similar to PJ Clarke's.

                    The Waterfront Ale House, which has already been mentioned, has an excellent beer selection as well as a first rate burger.



                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      Not only are the burgers at PJ Clarke's small, but they are dry. I don't see the appeal.

                      I like the burger at Waterfrontalehouse.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        I agree that Old Town is a good burger and the bar is exactly right, especially if you hit it off peak.

                      2. re: Peter Cherches

                        If Pub/burger is what you are looking for, then I am w/ Peter on this one--PJ Clarke's. True NY institution. Also much broader menu than Melon's, which, in my opinion feels more "clubby" than "pubby". Although burgers at both are good!

                      3. Burger: I like Corner Bistro in the Village and they have McSorley's Ale. There's usually a line. I also like the burger at Bill's Gay Nineties on 54th if you're wanting a place in Midtown.

                        Pho: There's nothing compared to Cali here. I'm Vietnamese and I have tried so many Manhattan places looking for a decent bowl, but there's usually something off with the ratio of spices/seasonings. Out of the places I've tried, I like Thaison best and go there often for the pho. Most of the people who work there also speak Vietnamese.

                        1. In case you sprain an ankle or are dead tired, check out HB Burger, super close to you on 43rd and 6th.


                          Not the best brewery or burgers in NYC, but good enough for the nabe and plenty hopping at all hours what with all the offices and tourists around.

                          1. Check out the Breslin at the Ace hotel. Their lamb burger & fries rock and they have great beers - true cask fermented british style

                            1. Skip the pho in Manhattan. SF has far better. I'd ditto the poster who suggested the ramen scene instead.

                              As for burger and beer, I like Molly's on 3rd Ave (it's huge though, so go hungry.) Do not go to Heartland Brewery.

                              1. I'm a fan of the burgers and mashed potatoes at Walker's, which is an unpretentious, old-school neighborhood pub on N. Moore St off of Varick St in Tribeca (Lower Manhattan). It has loads of charm and character along with solid pub fare (fish and chips, cobb salad, etc) and a basic beer selection. I always take out-of-town friends there who are looking for a classic NYC pub experience that isn't packed to the gills with tourists or frat boy types, as it is slightly under-the-radar compared with some of the other Manhattan spots.

                                I also like the burgers at Royale, which is a clean, newish, but somewhat generic bar with a younger crowd on Avenue C in the Alphabet City section of the East Village. Get the "Royale with Cheese" (and bacon); yes, the owners intended for the "Pulp Fiction" reference. To be honest, I probably like the burgers here a bit more than the ones at Walker's, but Walker's has way more atmosphere and character and a more extensive menu if you feel like ordering something else. Both places have only basic beer selections.

                                Other pubs that I like and have already been suggested include (in order of burger preference):
                                JG Melon (3rd Ave/E. 74th St on the Upper East Side), Waterfront Ale House (2nd Ave/E. 30th St in Kips Bay), Old Town Bar (E. 18th St btwn Broadway/Park Ave South in the Flatiron District), Molly's (3rd Ave btwn E. 22nd/23rd Sts in Gramercy Park), and P.J. Clarke's (3rd Ave/E. 55th St in Midtown East). I also like the Blind Tiger Ale House for its great beer selection, but cannot vouch for the food since I've never tried it.

                                If you don't have to be in a pub/tavern setting, definitely stop by Shake Shack, which has one of the better burgers in the city. Their original location at an outdoor kiosk in Madison Square Park (Madison Ave/E. 23rd St) has crazy lines during lunch and dinner, so it's best to go during off-hours. They also have Chicago-style hot dogs, which are merely ok compared to the real deal, but I do like their frozen custard and shakes a lot.

                                They have a new indoor location on Columbus Ave/W. 77th St on the Upper West Side, which I haven't been to. Given the cold weather right now, I'd go to that location instead of the Madison Square one.

                                Another great burger in a casual but non-pub setting is BLT Burger on 6th Ave btwn W. 11th/12th Sts in the Village. Not super cheap at around $11-$15 per burger, but definitely one of my favorite non-gourmet burgers. Good milkshakes, waffle fries, and a decent beer selection to boot.

                                Finally, I like the burgers at The Spotted Pig on W. 11th St/Greenwich St in the West Village, but they're not cheap ($17) and the only cheese available is Roquefort. It comes with shoestring fries, which are tasty, but I still prefer the medium-thick fries or waffle fries served at other places. Trendy gastropub setting and very crowded during lunch and especially dinner; mid-afternoon is the time to go to avoid a wait.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: freshfigs

                                  Walker's has a great vibe, though I haven't been there in a while. Sunday nights are a good bet if jazz guitarist Peter Leitch still has his regular gig there.

                                2. Oh and btw, there is absolutely no reason to get pho in NYC, especially given that you're coming from the West Coast. NYC's Vietnamese restaurant scene is really pitiful compared with Orange County, San Jose/SF, Houston, New Orleans, Northern Virginia/DC, and even Philly. NYC's Vietnamese population is surprisingly very small for a city of its size, so the Viet food cannot compare with regions boasting a much larger community that can place a higher demand on quality and authenticity. Instead, the city has loads of mediocre-to-poor Vietnamese restaurants that capitalize on the fact that a lot of people in the city simply don't know what high quality Viet food is supposed to taste like.

                                  Plus, many (if not most) Vietnamese restaurants in NYC are owned and operated by ethnic Chinese (sometimes from Vietnam, sometimes not) rather than ethnic Vietnamese, so something gets lost in translation. For instance, I've found that the flavor of the pho broth is always "off" and way too greasy, without the clean, rich taste of a properly prepared version.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: freshfigs

                                    Maybe lost in translation or maybe "Cholon-style" Vietnamese (Cholon is Saigon's Chinatown).

                                    Possibly the only Vietnamese place I'd compare to SF is Ba Xuen in Brooklyn for banh mi, but even then there are no shortage of great banh mi places in SF Tenderloin.

                                    1. re: freshfigs

                                      Let's add the Twin Cities to the list of places that have much better pho but I'd probably disagree about Philly. There used to be a place in Chicago-Argyle that had amazing pho, but it changed owners years ago.

                                      1. re: windycity

                                        Upstate NY towns like Syracuse & Utica have large Viet communities. I wouldn't be surprised if you could get better Pho in those towns than NYC>

                                        1. re: Peter Cherches

                                          kinda, but still not true unfortunately; spent 4 years upstate and . . . . pho is still not as good as what i've had in philly, SF, etc.

                                    2. like they sayin' skip pho here and hit with ramen at ippudo if you want asian noodle. you can also go to Onya which is very near you (47th and 3rd-ish) for udon (lunch is only udon and such, dinner has bigger menu); recent review here:

                                      pub burger recs below are good; e.g. Molly's, P.J. Clarkes, Old Town, etc.

                                      1. I thought about your request for some good pho but as a frequent visitor to San Francisco I would have to say maybe it's time to think outside the bowl.

                                        Manhattan has a large Korean population and a bunch of decent restaurants. Maybe you need a good bowl of bibimbap instead (not a soup). Winter comfort food.

                                        Here's a link to a chowhound discussion on where to find the best in town: